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How to Create a Donut Chart in Tableau

Introduction

I love the wide variety of charts Tableau offers. If we’re ever confused about which chart to design, Tableau offers a ton of in-build options that do the trick for us.

All the common charts are one-click away in Tableau:

  • Bar charts
  • Stacked bar charts
  • Map visualizations
  • Pie charts (no other chart divides opinion quite like a pie chart!)
  • Line charts
  • Scatter plots

And many others. But here’s the thing – what if the chart you want isn’t readily available? What if the visualization isn’t built into Tableau? That’s the question we will address today by designing a donut chart in Tableau from scratch.

donut chart Tableau image

If you are new to Tableau and are excited to learn more, make sure you check out the FREE ‘Tableau for Beginners‘ course. You will learn about the different functionalities of Tableau and also how to design different chart types in Tableau. It’s the perfect starting point.

Now, before we fire up Tableau and look at how to design a donut chart, let’s quickly understand WHY we need this in the first place. It’s one of the more useful charts you’ll use in a business setting but you should be aware of when to use it.

 

What is a Donut Chart?

You might be wondering what is the point of a donut chart. It sounds like a fancy name but does it have any real-world use cases? Or is it limited to sounding like a delicious treat?

Here’s the good news – it is SUPER useful if you know how and when to use it. It is, in a way, a variation on the much-debated pie chart – but with additional benefits.

Here’s a look at what we’ll be making in this tutorial:

Tableau Donut Chart example

I love this definition and comparison by DataVizCatalogue:

Pie Charts are sometimes criticised for focusing readers on the proportional areas of the slices to one another and to the chart as a whole. This makes it tricky to see the differences between slices, especially when you try to compare multiple Pie Charts together.

 

A Donut Chart somewhat remedies this problem by de-emphasizing the use of the area. Instead, readers focus more on reading the length of the arcs, rather than comparing the proportions between slices.

You can also use the hole in the middle of the donut chart to display additional information, such as the total sales numbers.

 

Creating a Donut Chart in Tableau

So, are you ready to fire up Tableau and create your own donut chart?

We will be using the popular Superstore dataset here. You will find it under the Tableau repository in your ‘My Documents’ folder. Tableau downloads it for you when you install the tool (both Desktop and Public).

Our aim is to create a donut chart that shows Category-wise sales for the Superstore. Additionally, we want to display the total sales as well in this donut chart.

Let’s begin!

 

Step 1: Setting the Base in Tableau

In your rows field, type this:

avg(0)

Then, next to this, again type:

avg(0)

Note: This is the number 0 and not the alphabet.

This is what you should get:

Setting the base in tableau

 

Step 2: Working with the First Feature

You’ll notice that there are a couple of new additions under the ‘Marks’ card on the left named ‘AGG(avg(0))’. These are the two empty placeholders we created in the first step. Here, click on the first instance.

  • Select the pie chart in the drop-down menu
  • Drag and drop the ‘Category’ dimension to the Colors card
  • Drag and drop the ‘Sales’ dimension to your Angle card

This is what you should have (you can increase the size from the Marks card):

working eith the first feature

Let’s perform some aesthetic steps to improve our visualization:

  • Drag and drop Sales and Category to the Labels card
  • Right-click Sales (under the labels option) -> Quick Table Calculation -> Percent of Total

The idea is to show the total share of each category to the total sales value:

category wise sales

Can you see our donut chart taking shape?

 

Step 3: Working with the Second Feature

Click on the second ‘AGG(avg(0))’ option under the Marks card. Let’s get the second part of our donut chart going:

  • Select the Circle chart from the drop-down menu
  • Click on the Color card and select white. This will be the hole in our donut chart
  • Drag and drop the Sales measure to the Labels card

 

Step 4: Putting it all together! Our Donut Chart in Tableau

Let’s get everything under the same umbrella. This is where we will combine our two charts using Tableau’s Dual-axis chart feature.

  • Right-click on the second instance of ‘AGG(avg(0))’ in the Rows field
  • Click on ‘Dual Axis’
  • Increase the size of the pie chart and the circle from your Marks card

And voila! Here is your donut chart in Tableau:

our donut chart

Let’s perform a few quick aesthetic changes to make our chart visually appealing:

  • Drag and drop all your labels inside the donut chart (just click on each label and drag it)
  • In your second ‘AGG(avg(o))’ option under the Marks card on your left, right-click on the Sales measure in the labels and select ‘Format’
  • Under the ‘Default’ option, click on the Numbers drop-down and select ‘Currency (Custom)’
  • Under the ‘Prefix/Suffix’ option, replace the default sign with $ (or you can keep the default currency if you want)

Here’s how your final donut chart should look in Tableau:

Tableau Donut Chart: donut chart

 

End Notes

Don’t you love the ease with which we can create a custom chart in Tableau? It takes just a few clicks to assemble a powerful visualization without the need for programming. It’s aesthetically pleasing and makes sense from a business perspective – a win-win!

How would you customize this chart? And what other charts would you want to learn about in Tableau? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below.

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